Trolley Service Discontinued After Months of Low Ridership

From late 2008 to May 2009, an old-fashioned red and white trolley offered free rides around the Claremont Village. Its circuit ran from Bonita to First Street to Oberlin Avenue to College Avenue every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.The tram was leased by the Claremont City Council in the hope of boosting business revenues by making transportation more convenient for shoppers and enhancing the small-town feel of Claremont. The tram’s ridership peaked in November at about 12 riders per hour, but faltered afterward.It was also expected to free up parking in the village by encouraging the use of the downtown parking structure.On Apr. 14, the City Council voted to stop running the tram and relocate it to a storage lot.The tram cost the city about $22,000 a month when it was in use and now costs about $4,000 monthly in lease payments. Given other costs, the trolley was estimated to cost the city about $886,000 after three years of service.Adopting a proposal of non-appropriation was considered, but the lending institution, Kansas State Bank, warned that this could negatively impact the city’s credit or could increase the cost of future borrowing. The city also would have to report this to any leasing or financing institutions in the future. After the City Attorney confirmed these possibilities, the Council decided to continue paying the lease until it expires or an agency willing to adopt the lease is found.The city is now negotiating with several parties interested in taking the lease, such as Chaffey College. “It astounds me [that the city] could waste money like this … We aren’t San Francisco or Pasadena and we never will be,” said a local restaurant owner whose family has owned the business since the 1960s. “They should have run it farther out from the village. It’s not that difficult to walk from store to store here.”Some citizens believe the route was poorly planned, while others believe the entire project was doomed from the start. The trolley currently rests in a City storage lot until a new owner is found or the lease is completed.

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